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How To Get Pests Out Of Your Car


There are tons of types of animals who would seek shelter in your vehicle. From rodents to spiders to insects, if this problem goes untreated, you could have an infestation on your hands. There are ways to safely remove these threats from your vehicle. 

What are the most common pests? 

The most common pests found living in vehicles include:

  • Ants 
  • Cockroaches
  • Wasps and Bees
  • Carpet Beetles
  • Rats 
  • Mice
  • Bed bugs
  • Flies
  • Snakes

Steps To Removing Insects From Your Car:

Step 1: Give the vehicle a thorough once over to determine what type of bug you are dealing with. Different types of animals are going to require different and more extreme solutions in some cases. Next up check out the areas where your vehicle is regularly parked. This could be both at home or at work, odds are you will find a larger infestation of whatever you’re dealing within very close proximity. 

Step 2: You’re going to want to check out the exterior of your vehicle as well as the interior. There is really no use dealing with the interior bugs until you remove the ones around the exterior. There are tons of openings in a car that bugs can slip through so deal with your exterior problem first! Unless you can’t stand to sit in the vehicle without cleaning it, which is understandable. Take your car to a high powered car wash which should remove the bugs thoroughly. 

Step 3: Next we’ll start to clean the interior of the car. A vacuum is going to be your best friend. Whether the issue is fleas, roaches, or bed bugs you need to be sure to get rid of any food and crumbs that may be attracting bugs, the bugs themselves, and any eggs or larvae. In some cases, you are going to have to use a source of heat to get rid of your vermin.

Step 4: Use a trap to catch any remaining insects if appropriate for your situation. We’ll go into detail on where this is an advisable option.  Alternatively, you can use an insecticide, but you want to be careful with what you use. The last thing you want is to adversely affect your health or the environment by choosing the wrong insecticide. We will also discuss appropriate and eco-conscious insecticides as well as home remedies for each type of pest. 

Step 5: Prevent future insects. You can do this in a number of ways including

  • Keeping food out of your car and where you store the vehicle. 
  • Opt for parking on some form of manmade surface like concrete
  • Avoiding trees is suggested, but personally I think there are way more benefits from using trees as a form of shade. Enough to outweigh the risk of bugs.
  • Do a thorough check of what you are putting in your car. If you frequently hike, mountain bike, go to the beach, go boating or fishing, or if you have an outdoor job you should always check yourself and any gear you bring back and forth with you for bugs. 

Is It Okay To Bug Bomb Your Car?

I highly recommend not using bug bombs or any sort of spray poison in general. Whether it is in your home or in your car, these toxins can be incredibly dangerous to you, your family, and the environment. Wherever possible, avoid using aerosols and spray poisons. 

The reason? You are introducing this fumigation everywhere and it is very hard to clean up effectively because you can’t see it and it spread with whatever airflow was running through your car. Usually, you don’t clean it up, because how would you, which means anyone or anything that makes contact with the surface where the poison was sprayed or anywhere that the poison particles may have landed is absorbing these toxins through their skin or lungs. 

With cars, the upholstery and carpeting is going to absorb that toxin. At the very least you are going to smell it for a long time coming. At the very worst, you’re breathing in dangerous chemicals. 

Safe Ways To Fumigate Your Car

Most bugs will die when they come in contact with enough carbon dioxide (CO2). Bugs are oxygen breathing creatures just like we are, and with a concentrated dose of carbon dioxide they will die. A relatively safe way to fumigate a car is with a block of dry ice. Dry ice is frozen CO2, it is usually seen on days like halloween because the effect of dry ice in water is a dense fog that produces maximum creepy effects. 

You can buy dry ice at most grocery stores and large retailers like Walmart, Target and Whole Foods. You can alternately find dry ice at costume stores and ice cream shops (because they use dry ice to keep the ice cream frozen!). 

What to do: Place your block of dry ice in a cooler. I recommend a 2-5 pound piece of dry ice. Next, place the cooler on the floorboards of your vehicle or however low to the ground that you can. Remember that the CO2 is going to sink as it fills the vehicle. If you have a sedan with a trunk you may want to consider placing dry ice in this compartment as well.  Seal the vehicle as much as possible. Now, cover the vehicle with a tarp and be sure to secure it well. 

Leave the vehicle for 12- 24 hours. If done properly, you should have effectively fumigated your vehicle in a safe way. Because CO2 is something that we produce as animals, you can rest a lot easier knowing you got rid of your bug problem while causing little to no damage to our fragile ecosystem.

Ants Are One Of The Most Common Pests

Ants are the most common pests that people run into car infestations with. While ants don’t carry diseases themselves, they can spread bacterias as they walk along the outside of pipes and sometimes through areas of animal feces. Some varieties of ants are pretty harmless otherwise, though others like red ants do bite and can leave you covered in bumps if you aren’t careful. 

Why Are There Ants In My Car?

Ants typically move into new spaces when looking for one thing, food! 

How Can I Get Rid Of The Ants In My Car?

  1. Remove all trash and food from the car.
  2. Move your car away from anywhere that the ants may be living like tall grass.
  3. Vacuum everything
  4. Wash wheels and tires
  5. Spray/ sprinkle a natural deterrent listed below
  6. Ant traps

Natural Ways To Get Rid Of Ants

Sure you can use a pesticide to get rid of ants, but then you have to worry about inhaling or absorbing whatever you used through your skin. I try to use natural remedies wherever I can whether it’s cleaning around the house or trying to get rid of nuisance bugs. 

  • Mint
  • Vinegar
  • Lemon Juice
  • Cinnamon 
  • Pepper
  • Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth

Mint: Ants hate the peppermint plant. It is a great natural way to prevent ants and to get rid of them. If you have an ant problem in your vehicle, you can use mint in one of two ways. For a fast and easy fix, you’ll use peppermint essential oil. Put a few drops on a cotton ball and place the cotton wherever you have an infestation. Be cautious, essential oils can be dangerous when misused. If you are pregnant or have small children, consider our second option. 

Buy mint plants and place them inside your vehicle and around where you park. You can also do this around the perimeter of your home if you are having an ant problem there which is likely. 

Vinegar: I love using vinegar as a natural cleaning product throughout my home and car. It is a great way to sanitize and disinfect surfaces. It is also a great way to eliminate pests like ants. Mix a solution of 50/ 50 vinegar and water and add the solution to a spray bottle. The vinegar will kill any ants it makes contact with and you can just wipe them away. It will also deter new ants from showing up. The mixture will smell at first but will quickly evaporate and be scentless. 

Lemon Juice: Similar to vinegar, lemon juice destroys the scent trail that ants follow and reduces the likeliness of them returning. This is a good option to use on hard surfaces but I would be very cautious spraying on carpeting or upholstery as it will not simply evaporate like vinegar. Mix a ratio of 3 parts water, 1 part lemon juice. Add to a spray bottle, spray, and wipe away your pests. 

Cinnamon: This commonly used household spice will suffocate the ants. You can sprinkle on their trail or if you know where the nest is sprinkle on the anthill. If using in your car this can easily be vacuumed up but may leave a cinnamon odor in your vehicle. 

Pepper: You can use either cayenne or black pepper to accomplish deterring ants from making a home out of your car or house. One of the two methods will work, but neither will actually kill the ants. Ants hate the smell of pepper and will avoid it whenever possible. Sprinkle a line of the pepper of your choosing across a line of ants or around your vehicle. You can also mix the pepper with water and add it to a spray bottle. 

Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth: This is the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton. The phytoplankton is incredibly sharp and cuts through the ant’s exoskeletons which effectively dries them out. While this method does work, it seems a bit inhumane to me. Just give the ants a quick death using vinegar.  

Ant Traps To Use

There are a number of options to choose from when you want to use a poison to kill ants. I would advise this as a last resort option. The ants are not going to immediately die after feeding on the poison and are bound to track micro levels of the poison on the surfaces they contact after. If you have a full on nest in your car, or you’ve tried a natural remedy, this is a good option for you.

Terro Prefilled Liquid Traps

I wouldn’t move your car around too much with these guys out, but they do a fantastic job of taking care of an ant infestation. These traps kill all common varieties of ants from carpenter to common black ants and they could not be more simple to use. There is no filling process involved. Simply set up the traps wherever needed and let them do the work. When you’re ready to drive your car, just move the traps into your garage. 

It’s not a bad idea to put out some traps where you park your car as well. This is likely where the problem arose in the first place. 

Home Plus Ant Killer Metal Bait Stations

These metal ant traps come in a pack of four which is perfect for placement in most cars. The chemical used in this product is taken as food by the ants back to the colony where it is consumed by the queen ant. This effectively kills the entire colony and the ant hill. So if you can’t figure out where your ant problem is coming from, this is a great product to use. 

Sitting at the low end of the price scale, this is a product that is accessible to just about everyone. Home plus also offers a money back guarantee, reducing the risk for their consumers. A great buy. See the link below for purchase options. 

Hot Shot Max Attraxs Ant Traps

These pre made ant traps are great because they are discreet and child proof. They would work perfectly for slipping under the seat of your vehicle or placing in the corner of your trunk. The poison starts working immediately and the traps can last for up to six months, though I doubt you’d need to use them for that long in an automobile. 

This type of bait is taken by the worker ants back to the colony and is fed to the other ants including the queen. So the entire colony will die. You can buy these in packs of 8 or 48 depending on your needs. Check them out in the links below. 


Depending on who you are, you can have some serious anxiety about finding a cockroach in your vehicle. There is something about those six legs and long antennae that could make even  a grown man cry. As a Florida native, I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with roaches and they grow em BIG down here. 

Finding a cockroach in your vehicle is usually a huge surprise which adds to the panic. You don’t hear about cars with cockroach infestations too often, but it does happen! Whether you have one six-legged friend or many, there are steps you can take to safely remove the issue and restore your serenity. 


 Okay, so the obvious is getting startled when you are driving. Finding a cockroach can be distracting and for some with phobias, downright traumatic. Bug related car accidents are actually the second highest cause of accidents in the summer months. Over 650,000 take place every year.

Outside of the dangers of crashing your car due to distractions, cockroaches carry over 30 different types of bacteria which can cause various health ailments. Cockroaches are believed to carry salmonella, staphylococcus, streptococcus. They can also carry viruses including the polio virus. 

How To Tell When Your Pest Problem Is With Roaches

There are several tell signs that you have a roach problem in your vehicle. You can identify roaches as the culprit if you are seeing these five things:

  1. Roach Droppings- Cockroach feces can be mistaken for finely ground black pepper. Coffee grounds are another way that you can describe the appearance. This is the number one sign of an infestation. 
  2. Empty Egg Sacks– Like most insects, cockroaches reproduce by laying eggs. When these eggs hatch they leave behind cases. The eggs can be identified as small, brown, oval-shaped sacs. Though small, each casing can hold between 20 and 50 eggs!! Be sure to destroy them immediately so they don’t hatch and add to your problem. 
  3. Roaches Visible In Daylight– Cockroaches are nocturnal creatures. You don’t usually see them during the day. When you do, it is usually for one of two reasons. The first is that the roach is sick or poisoned and it is on it’s way out. The second is that you have so many roaches that this one has been forced out of its usual hiding places. 
  4. Dead Cockroaches– You probably don’t need my help identifying this sign. If you are seeing dead roaches, you have an infestation. 
  5. Smell- You can smell a large number of cockroaches. They tend to produce an odor that can be described as oily or musky. You won’t smell a few roaches, but if the problem is serious you can definitely smell it. Decomposing cockroach corpses also leave a smell.

How To Get Rid Of Roaches

After you’ve followed the first two steps in our insect removal, including washing the exterior and vacuuming, you’ll want to use a trap or a roach poison to kill the roaches and the nest. 

Roach Traps

There are tons of cockroach traps available on the market. The way they work is utilizing a very sticky adhesive paired with a lure like some form of food. When the roach steps onto the trap to take the food it gets stuck to the surface of the trap and will eventually die. Traps should be placed beneath the floorboards of your car if accessible, beneath seats, in the corners of the trunk and in the boot. 

 Here are some of the recommended traps for cockroaches to be used in your car

Trapper Max Glue Traps

I really love this product because it is a natural and toxin free way of trapping pests. Whether you have mice or bugs this trap is going to do the trick because the glue is incredibly strong. 

The trap is rectangular and measure 4.5” x 6.5” which makes it a great size for just about any spot in your vehicle. Finally, the price is right! Sitting at the low end of the price scale this is an optimal option for just about anyone. Check them out in the link below

Tenslow Effective and Innovative Roach Trap

Unlike competitor products, this trap does not utilize glue or adhesive to catch roaches. Instead it has a one way door that allows cockroaches to enter, but not leave! How it works is you leave some sort of bait in the trap, whether that is bread, cereal, oils, etc. Things that roaches like. The smell attracts them to the trap and this Tenslow product does the rest of the work. Check it out here. 

Catchmaster Glue Traps

Catchmaster traps are my favorite glue traps because of their versatility. The product can be used as a sheet of adhesive to be left anywhere out of the way that you have pests, but it can also be used as a box trap with some simple folding. 

Remember that insects don’t walk strictly on the ground. They can run up walls or down seats. I highly recommend turning these into the traps by following manufacturer folding instructions and placing them under seats. It is a great way to hide the trap and cover more ground. Check them out here. These traps come as 36 and 72 counts depending on your needs. 

36 Count

72 Count

Exterminators Choice Glue Traps

Another product I really love for the use of trapping pests in your car are these glue traps from Exterminators Choice.  This brand is widely recognized and comes with their money back guarantee if you don’t love their product. 

Good for all crawling bugs, from roaches to spiders, bed bugs and crickets. These glue traps are super durable and highly adhesive, trapping anything that crawls onto its surface. I prefer to use glue traps wherever possible because you are not introducing poisonous toxins to yourself and the environment. These glue traps are on the larger size range. Check them out here. 

The Best Poisons To Use For Roaches

Boric Acid Tablets

Boric acid is one of the most effective chemicals to use when trying to kill a colony of roaches. It works fast to eliminate the problem and the roaches are drawn to the tablets by the scent. Boric acid is safe to use in a home with pets and children, but only when manufacturer instructions are closely followed. 

The tablets are small and easy to hide. The best part is that the roaches will carry the acid back to the colony for you, effectively killing all of the cockroaches in the nest. This solution couldn’t be more cost effective, you get 130 tablets which will last indefinitely when stored properly, for less money than you would spend going through a fast food drive through. There are a few varieties that will work for cars.

Harris Famous Roach Tablets

Harris Famous Roach Power

Raid and Combat Traps

These little black traps are pretty standard and you’ve likely seen them hanging in the corner of a friend or relatives house. Some of you may already have some of these hanging around the house. 

I like these traps because they have the poison enclosed. This is great if you are still trying to use your car despite it having a few tagalong passengers. You don’t want poisonous materials rolling around as you take corners and accelerate. With their flat bases, these roach traps are a great way to prevent that from happening. 

Combat Large Roach Traps:

Combat Small Roach Traps

Raid Large Roach Traps

Raid Small Roach Traps

Things That Don’t Work On Roaches

There is a ton of misleading information out there on natural forms of pest controls. Don’t believe everything that you read.  

Pandan leaves: Many people will lead you to believe that pandan leaves will help you get rid of cockroaches. While these leaves, when fresh, maybe a slight repellent to roaches, they are not going to clear out an infestation. Dried leaves can become a source of food if you already have roaches. 

Where To Place Poisons 

Roaches search for their food in dark places where they are less likely to get caught by a predator. The corners of your trunk are usually a great place for application as well as underneath your seats and in the closable compartments like the glove box and center console. 

Wasps and Bees

Having an infestation of wasps and bees can be a dangerous situation. On the one hand you don’t want to kill the bees seeing as they are becoming increasingly endangered, on the other hand, you really don’t want to get stung. 

In some cases depending on your allergies, bee stings can be fatal if not treated appropriately. In most scenarios a single bee sting won’t kill you, but they can be incredibly painful. 

Of course we want to avoid being stung wherever possible when removing a hive of bees or wasps from your vehicle. 

What To Wear

You want to cover up as much as possible and wear thick clothing that you won’t be stung through if at all possible. When removing wasps try to have:

  • Gloves
  • Thick socks
  • Closed toed shoes
  • Long pants that are fitted at the ankles
  • A long sleeved shirt
  • A hat 
  • Some form of netting to cover your face and neck

How To Remove Bees And Wasps

If possible try to find a beekeeper to come and remove the bees from your car and safely relocate them to a proper home. It is inadvisable to kill bees as they are currently endangered and a lot of our food supply depends on them. 

With wasps, I recommend hiring a professional exterminator if at all possible. Know that they can and are highly motivated to protect their nest and they do not die like bees do after a sting. 

If you want to remove them yourself:

  1. Put on your protective clothing
  2. Locate the nest on the exterior of your vehicle
  3. Wait until dusk and if possible a cool night
  4. From a distance of 20 feet, spray the nest with wasp killer 
  5. As the wasps fall out of the air, step on them to ensure they don’t come after you
  6. Spray the nest again at 10 feet and 5 feet
  7. Once you determine there is no longer movement coming from the nest, remove it with your gloved hands and dispose of it. 
  8. If you’ve fully removed all nests, the wasps will not return. 
  9. To prevent future issues, park your car in a garage or utilize a car cover. 

Rats, Mice, and Rodents

They might sound cute, but I promise you it is not cute  when you see the damage that some rodents can cause to a car when they decide to nest in it. They can take shelter under the hood or in the cabin and trunks of the car and the destruction that can ensue will make your jaw drop. 

Personally I’ve never had issues with rodents in my car, but I have had rats in a boat and let me tell you, those little guys can chew. They chewed through both the anchor line (which we didn’t realize until we’d tossed the anker and down down it went with the bit of severed rope attached) and the gas line. We ended up stranded with no way to stay in one spot other than paddling. What a nightmare! 

Rodents will do similar things to the hoses and wiring in a car’s engine block as well. Whether you’re dealing with squirrels, rats, or mice. All can be really bad news. They also make a horrible mess and will leave feces everywhere. Finally, you can worry about catching plenty of diseases from the group of animals that brought you the bubonic plague. They themselves as well as their fleas can leave you very sick. It is best to knock this issue out as soon as you know about it because they will reproduce quickly. 

Why Are There Rodents In My Car

Typically rodents take up shelter in cars to avoid winter. This is especially true of vehicles that are often left undriven. Some automakers also use wire coverings that are made of soy which invites the pests in for quite a feast. 

Avoiding Future Issues With Rodents In Your Car:

  1. Avoid leaving your car parked outside for extended periods of time. The risk for rodents in your car grows the closer it is parked to access to things like tall grass and heavily wooded areas. 
  2. Don’t leave your windows or sunroof open, especially overnight. You are inviting in pests when you leave the windows open in your vehicle. Especially sunroofs make it easy for rodents to jump in if you are parked under a tree or overhang. 
  3. Don’t leave food or garbage in your car. Loose papers, empty drink cups and random food items make it very enticing for  rodents to nest and feast in your car. Keep the random junk to a minimum
  4. Use a rodent repellent. See below
  5. Use Western Red Cedar shavings around where the vehicle is parked. These wood shavings contain phenols which kill rodents, though most will hit the road before they come close to dying. 
  6. Wrap your tires in a rodent deterrent tape. 
  7. Use ultrasonic rodent deterrents.
  8. If you think your car is getting intruded by rodents, you can set up rodent traps to catch any trespassers.

What Rodent Repellent To Use

There are tons of natural and synthetic repellents that you can use to drive rodents out of your vehicle and also prevent them from nesting there in the first place. 

Natural Rodent Repellents

I like to use natural solutions wherever possible both for my own health and safety and for my loved ones and the environment. 

Peppermint oil: you’re going to want to use a pure therapeutic grade oil to deter rodents. I do love the scent of peppermint and it will help to eliminate the scent of any pests that have been nesting in your car. Consider using eucalyptus oil in addition to peppermint, but be cautious. Essential oils can be dangerous for pregnant women and for small children. 

Essential oils: Essential oils can be used throughout the home for a variety of purposes. Be sure to dilute the oil appropriately if it will be making contact with your skin. You’ll want to be sure to buy pure therapeutic grade oil. The two that I suggest for both peppermint and eucalyptus oil are featured in the link below. 

Therapeutic Grade Peppermint Essential Oil

Therapeutic Grade Eucalyptus Essential Oil

Western Red Cedar Shavings

This is a great natural rodent inhibitor. Cedar wood contain phenols that will scare away any rodents and will likely kill any who decide to stay. This mulch should be placed around the area where you park your car. As an added bonus it also repels other pests such as venomous snakes, roaches and fleas. 

Synthetic Rodent Odor Deterrents

You can also use synthetic smells to scare away rodents. They are typically made by professional extermination companies and are very effective. One of the best choices is from a company called Rodent Defense and their product is designed to be used on cars and boats. It is safe and is guaranteed to get rid of your rodent problem whether you are dealing with rats, mice or squirrels. Check it out at the link below. 

Ultrasound Rodent Deterrents

If you’re looking for a super humane way to get rid of rats, consider these electronic rodent deterrents. The flash lights, play predator noises and produce sound waves that are super unpleasant for the rodent’s sensitive ears. Keep them away from your dogs. Here are some of the best options on the market. 

Low End Price Options

Mid Level Price Options

High End Price Options

What To Do If There Is A Bug Or Rodent In Your Car While Driving

Bug related car accidents cause over 650,000 crashes every year! While close encounters with bugs can be unnerving, you want to stay calm. You are much more likely to face serious injury from crashing your car than you are from a spider, bee, or cockroach. 

Step 1: Remain calm. Take a deep breath and focus on what you are doing, not the bug. 

Step 2: Pull over to the side of the road or a parking lot if it is safe to do so and get out of the car. Open your windows if you have a flying friend and shoo the bug out of the car. If you have a spider use a paper document to remove, and best of luck if you have a roach because they can be tricky to catch. 

Step 3: Be prepared. If you are allergic to some insects, you want to always have a dose of the necessary allergy medication on hand. Whether you need an EpiPen or an oral medication, make sure you have the necessary supplies easily accessible in case of an emergency. It’s not a bad idea to keep an extra phone charger in your vehicle as well so that you can call 911 even if your phone is close to dead.

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